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Automotive Cyprus

Reach out and touch someone – and probably miss!
On this sunny and reasonably tech savvy island, the major telecommunications providers are Cytanet and MTN (and no, I don’t know what that stands for). MTN used to be called Areeba, which reminded me of the old Speedy Gonzalez and Sylvester the cat cartoons.

Not any more though

Once upon a time this silly name made me smile, but the smiling stopped when I got a phone with them and I ran into their Areeba creative billing policy.
In layman’s terms it went like this:
“Yes we did agree on fifty Euros a month but we are charging you eighty-five anyway for no readily apparent reason and if you don’t like it, remember that Cyprus is an island and so it is surrounded by sea – go jump in.”
This is not so much the case with MTN but as they are Areeba’s linear descendent, the memory of this approach lingers - together with the current expensive data transfer rates.
Cytanet are the national providers – sort of like British Telecom but with a big moustache and smelling of ouzo, slapping you on the back - most likely on your sunburn. They are blessed with that laid back attitude that we all love in Cyprus – right up to the point when we need something done urgently and we discover that “laid back” is another way of saying “ineffectual and indifferent”.
We locals are actually accustomed to needing to make five or six attempts to complete a single call on our mobiles and so we have evolved a few useful techniques to deal with conversations that, like SMS messages, are spit up into (literally) disconnected chunks because Cyta say that you have blathered quite enough trivia for now and they want another connection charge out of you before you can continue indulge in petty irrelevances like requesting help for your broken down car or explaining convincingly to your next of kin why you are thee hours late for dinner and please not to change the locks.
I thought I might share a few pointers although you should feel free to add your own by emailing webz@entertainmentcyprus.com and I’ll be happy to add them to this hopefully useful but far from exhaustive list.

1. Why did you hang upon me?
Please do not ask me this because I probably didn’t. Cyta did. And as you fume about my rudeness in closing the phone on you, I am probably fuming about yours for the same reason, and the Cyta technician who was listening in and chose the most irritating moment to pull the plug is laughing like a maniac at you and telling all his mates about it.
If you want to slam down the phone on me, say”I’m hanging up” then do so. Otherwise it does not count.
Sometimes people actually have to call each other back in order to hang up on one another.

2. Why did you turn off your phone?
I didn’t. There are still a few areas in eastern Cyprus where there is no signal for your mobile and you can bet that your phone will die just when someone is calling you to say “Her brother is waiting for you with his entire motorcycle gang – don’t go home” or something equally inconvenient if you should miss the call.
If the phone is apparently off, wait five minutes and try again before being certain or else send an SMS.
Life being what it is, she is probably furious because you apparently hung up on her while she was talking to you and then had the brass balls to turn your phone off.

3. Brevity is the soul of….s@*t!
Be brief. No one knows how long they have before you hit a dead zone or the plug pulls itself. Speak quickly and get to the point then elaborate afterwards if Cyta choose to allow it. Say “Don’t go home – bad people!” and when you get confirmation that the message was understood you can elaborate about her brother whose blood spattered hobbies include ripping the heads off live chickens with his……hello? Hello?

4. Where were we?
This one for advanced users. Whoever was listening when the call was so amusingly terminated, after reconnection will automatically repeat the last few words of the conversation to the original speaker so that they know from what point to continue. Thus answering the question “What was I saying when we were cut off” without it being asked and so saving time.
It also reduces the risk that Cyta will cut you off while you are trying to catch up on what you were saying before Cyta cut you off. Needless to say this only works if both of you were paying attention to the conversation anyway.

5. Call me back.
When cut off, both callers will try to reach the person they were talking to, if you are not the first to complete dialing then the person you are calling will ring engaged so you can hang up and wait (hopefully) for the call to connect from the other end.
If you each wait for the other to call the conversation could last all day and so it is better to physically visit the individual you want to talk to and enjoy a cappuccino and a chat rather than struggling with all that dodgy technology.

In summary,
• If you really want to talk to someone either do it face to face or send an e-mail
• Don’t make assumptions – ask. If the phone dies, call back and say “Sorry – is there a problem?”
• If her brother is called Motorbike Mike the Manic Mangler – avoid her. Otherwise tell her mobiles cause cancer so you never use one and you want her not to use one either.

All the best
Webz/ECy
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